1270 Tasting Notes
From the queue
This one came from the first round of the European Travelling Teabox. I was right in the middle of chai-curious phase due to a pleasant one that Scheherazade had shared with me earlier when I received the box, so I nabbed this one. It’s a rooibos base and it has a really interesting name to boot. How can one make something taste like cola without actually putting cola in it? How can chai spices and cola even be combined in the first place? And hot cola, how’s that gonna work? I am intrigued!
Intrigued, yes, but also needing, it seems, a bit of courage to actually try it.
I have finally done so. I made a cup with half boiling water and half milk which I had heated in the microwave. Plenty of leaf in a filterbag and then a good long steep. About twice as long as I thought I would do because I forgot about it. I got distracted, you see, by writing this. As it’s a rooibos, though, I expect it was only to my advantage. I’ve found that you can’t really oversteep rooibos. They sort of level out, so the only result you get from forgetting it is that it starts to cool down.
It definitely has cinnamon in it, and in combination with the warm milk it smells strongly of rice porridge with cinnamon sugar and a lump of butter on it. (Which is very traditional around Christmas, but I tend to find it rather cloying) I also saw that the leaf had some cardamom pods in, but I can’t pick up anything in that regard.
Doesn’t smell particularly cola-y, I have to say. Or rooibos-y for that matter.
It doesn’t taste like cola either. Again, it’s warm milk and cinnamon, and a little bit of a cardamom floral touch. (Cardamom has a floral flavour, I think) There’s supposed to be ginger as well, apparently, but I can’t find any. Mysterious, really, since ginger is one of those things where very little can be too much for me. I can pick up the rooibos base, not so much because I can taste rooibos, but more because I can’t taste black tea.
I have to say I don’t think it lives up to the name at all. It’s pleasant and I’m enjoying my cup, but it just doesn’t taste like cola.
From the queue
This one was also from Courtney, and you may remember that I had asked for either this or the Tealux Cream Irish Breakfast as I thought they sounded interesting and Courtney thought they were very similar, and also that happily she had enough of both to share with me and was sweet enough to do so. I’m therefore having this one on the same day that I had the other, so that I too can see if I find them similar.
I think it definitely smells like cheesecake. It really was the first thing that popped into my head when I first sniffed it. I’m not sure I would have got cheesecake if I hadn’t known it to be there from the title as cheesecake is never really something at the forefront of my mind. I mean I like it a lot, but I have it very seldomly. I don’t think Husband quite got this from the aroma, but then he also started to wonder what cheesecake actually smells like and whether it smells like anything in particular. Well, I think it smells like cheesecake. Especially the crust of one.
Not sure about Irish cream, though. I’m only vaguely aware of that, so I don’t really know what to search for there. I can pick up something of the base underneath though. It’s fairly malty and reminds me a bit of Assam with a smidge of that cardboard-y note. I’m surprised then to find that the base is actually a second flush Darjeeling. This is interesting because when sipping it, I’m getting zero of the notes that ordinarily makes me dislilke Darjeeling. I imagine it’s a combination of it being second flush and it being tempered further by the flavouring. Perhaps it’s time to investigate second flushes, and maybe also autumnal, Darjeelings? This tea makes me think I might be ready for that.
Yes, I can definitely see similarities in the aroma, apart from how the Cream Irish Breakfast smelled very much like strawberry to me (I seem to be the only one) and this one doesn’t.
I can also see the similarity in the flavour, but this one has the cream more to the front and it’s not as smooth as the breakfast blend. It’s a little more aggressive. I have to say that tastewise it doesn’t give me that same cheesecake-y impression that the aroma did, but there is something that offsets the cream note. It’s sweeter than the breakfast blend, which may be the biggest difference between the two.
On the whole I agree with Courtney that they are very similar, but I must say I think I preferred the breakfast blend slightly more than this.
From the queue
Prior to my recent swap with Courtney I was asked for requests as one does. I was attracted to Butiki’s Irish Cream Cheesecake, and while reminding myself what Courtney had thought of that one, I noticed a mention of her finding it quite similar to this one. Therefore, I said I would like to try a sample of either this or that, but one of them would be fine if she didn’t have enough to share. Luckily for me, she had enough to share of both of them, so now I get to see for myself if I find them very similar too.
I started with this one because it’s morning, it’s the first tea of the day and it’s a breakfast blend. That’s fairly straight-forward, isn’t it?
It smells quite strong and also a bit creamy. Mostly though I’m finding it to have a very strong strawberry-y note. Peculiar. Was the pot perhaps not rinsed out properly from the Queen of Berries last night? I thought I was pretty thourough with that. Or is it the cream that does it, maybe? I think I can also detect something quite malty underneath the cream and the mysterious strawberry, which adds to the impression of it being quite strong. Husband didn’t think it smelled like strawberry at all, so perhaps that’s just me.
It is indeed a good strong blend, this one. It’s also quite smooth and fairly malty with a good buildup of aftertaste. A sort of oaky note there, I think, and quick flash of something a little more harsh. Like it’s a generally well-behaved blend, but showing teeth now and then to remind you that it’ll only be nice to you so long as you are nice to it.
I’ve had a cream flavoured black once which tasted pretty much just like a generic black with some cream poured into it, which, when you are not accustomed to adding anything to your tea at all EVER, wasn’t particularly pleasant. I was a little curious about how the cream note would behave in this one, but not sufficiently scared away by previous experiences to not give it a go.
I think the cream flavouring adds to the smoothness of this blend, but it’s really quite subtle. It’s there more in texture than in flavour and then I get a little swish of cream on the aftertaste. This is infinitely preferable to my previous experience. It is, in fact, very very nice.
I’m glad I asked Courtney if she could spare a sample of this for me. And once again, I find myself sort of wishing I hadn’t shared it with Husband as that means less of it for me.
From the queue
I recently received a large envelope from Courtney and among her offerings were lots of things that were breakfast compatible, so I decided to start with this one because I’ve heard many great things about it and am quite curious.
I’ll go straight to the point. I have to admit that I forgot to sniff the dry leaf (again), but I’m sniffing the brewed tea and… What is that it smells like? It’s familiar to me, but what is it? There’s a honey-note in there, but that’s not the note that is perplexing me. It’s honey with something but the more I try to pin it down, the more it seems to elude me. Something sweet, I think. Honey and something else that is sweet. But what? Some kind of dessert, I think, but that’s as far as I go. I know I’ve had some tea before that smelled like this, but I just can’t think what. I give up.
The flavour is quite mild and also quite sweet. It’s not malty or grainy sweet, it’s more honey and that infuriating something else note again. What IS it??? Whatever it is, it’s building up a magnificent aftertaste, like my mouth has been coated with honey and… whatever it is. It’s a much milder tea than I was expecting, but gosh is this good!
I wish I hadn’t shared it with Husband now…
From the queue
This is… I bought it based on a post that Anna made. She greatly enjoys this blend and I (used to) greatly enjoy this company. (Current relationship is somewhat fraught) In the meantime, however, it has been discovered that Anna and I are not Taste Twins. In many ways, in fact, we’re pretty much Taste Opposites, so now I’m a little concerned about it which is why the tin has been gathering dust in the Yet To Try Box.
I have to say I don’t rightly know what mulberry taste like exactly. I’ve had some before, but not so many that I’m at all familiar with the flavour. This blend though is not just a mulberry flavoured white tea. It’s a white tea with supposedly mulberry. And a bunch of other fruits and flowers. The description merely mentions white tea, mulberry and papaya, but I have some rather large pieces of apple in my tin as well and there is at least two kinds of flowers in it.
It smells quite fruity and creamy-thick. It has a sort of tropical twinge to it, which must be due to the papaya, but that might just be that I don’t know what mulberry smells like and I am aware that it has papaya in it. I’ve had some of these white blends from ACP before and I’m pretty certain that it’s the same Bai Mu Dan base for this one as it was for the others. I’m getting that same nutty, courgette-y note from it. I used to greatly enjoy BMDs years ago, but these days I find them all together too courgette-y. This is a smaller problem when flavoured, though.
The flavour also strikes me as somewhat tropical, and the comments above with regard to the base still stands. Again, though, I’m handicapped by having the faintest clue what mulberry tastes like and whether it tastes anything at all like this.
It’s quite nice, but not something that I’m likely to fall head over heels for. It reminds me strongly of the two other white blends from ACP I’ve had, White Temple Blend and especially White Dream Tea. The latter had banana and melon while the former had papaya and… some other stuff, so you’d think it would remind me more of the former. It doesn’t though. Interestingly enough, I also rated White Temple a full 20 points higher than White Dream, but if ever I were to buy either of them again, it would more likely than not by the Dream.
From the queue
This one was also shared with me by MissB. I’ve had maté before, but not some that looked like this. The maté I’ve had was green but this is brown. I suppose this must be the roasted kind, yes? As I understand it, the flavour is supposed to be vastly different. The other matés I’ve had I’ve thought tasted a bit like pea pods and a vague sense of mint, as I recall, so I’m curious about this.
I’m a little concerned about the ‘Java’ bit of the name though. Java, that’s something to do with coffee (Except when it’s an island, of course) and I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really find any sort of mixture of tea and coffee to be a match made in Heaven. Rather the opposite in fact. Is this blend coffee related at all, I wonder? Is it supposed to be?
The aroma is strongly cocoa-y. It smells not like chocolate, but rather like those cacao shells that have been rather popular on the site recently. Cocoa is all I get from the leaf, so I’m still none the wiser regarding the maté. I confess the maté is really what I’m the most interested in with this blend.
After steeping, the aroma is strongly hot cocoa. So much so, in fact, that it quickly becomes a bit cloying. Sweet and cocoa-y, but more sugary than particularly rich. It’s like that hot cocoa powder mix that you stir into milk and then heat up to make hot chocolate, only as if it had been made with boiling water rather than hot milk. I can’t detect anything coffee-like in it, and I still honestly don’t know if I’m supposed to. I’m still being confused by the ‘Java’.
After cooling a bit, the aroma becomes less cloyingly hot cocoa and more mocca-y. This is where I finally get a whiff of something coffee-y. It’s not very much so, just a hint of it, and there being so little of it actually only serves to enhance the mocca-y impression.
The problem I’ve had with these cacao shells is that when steeped they taste so much like hot chocolate and feel so little like it. The lack of texture breaks the whole thing for me, and I just can’t reconcile the flavour of cacao with the watery substance. I’m brought in mind of these hot chocolate powders made with boiling water again and all I can then think of is to curse the lazy cheap-skate that couldn’t be brought to use warm milk!
While the aroma was a little reassuring on the coffee-front, the taste is not living up to this at all. Rather than something primarily cocoa-y as promised, I’m tasting something that can only described as borderline weak coffee. It doesn’t even have that mocca-y tendency that the aroma suggested. It’s just weak coffee with a bit of cocoa around it. I suppose if I were to look very hard for it, I could call it cocoa-y, but the coffee-y aspect is really dominating for me to such a degree that I couldn’t describe it as such in good conscience.
I suppose it’s a question of how things we don’t like tend to rather overshadow other things. A bit like how even a blend that only has a little bit of hibiscus in it will still have a metallic taste to me.
Is it the roasted maté that gives the coffee-y notes? I imagine it might be. I can sort of vaguely see the connection from here to the pea pods of the green stuff, and I’m also getting that minty aftertaste and mouthfeel from it.
I have to say this is not a blend for me. It seems fairly similar to the chocolate aire that Bonnie sent me, and which I’m currently drinking at work for which it is eminently suitable. It might grow on me if given the chance, but as it is I don’t particularly enjoy the aroma of it, and I don’t really enjoy the flavour either. It is, however, fairly drinkable if one isn’t paying too much attention. Therefore, this is what I shall do.
From the queue (which is currently 23 pages and 30something posts)
I have ‘write a post for the Steepster queue’ on my todo list today. I wanted a cup of tea but wasn’t certain what I wanted specifically, so I did a lucky draw in the box of untried things. This is what I won.
It actually serves a dual purpose, because I’m trying to teach myself to also remember to have some of my non-black things, so it’s a new untried thing and it’s also my daily non-black blend. (The Sleepytime before bed doesn’t count here)
MissB shared this one with me, and I can’t say I’ve ever heard of the brand before. Interesting! It also has a lot of unknown things to me in it. I think I’ve had something with goji berries before, but I can’t recall what I thought they tasted like. I don’t think I’ve had eucalyptus in tea before, or dragon fruit either. (I get Cabin Pressure associations here; Arthur discovering that he’s allergic to dragon fruit. “GWAGON FWOO!” LOL!)
Apparently this is blended according to the principle of Feng Shui with five elements and five colours and stuff. I don’t know anything about that really. All I know is, it isn’t supposed to have hibiscus in it, but the brew still comes out a suspiciously pink colour.
This colour for me always bodes ill. It’s a very ominous sign indeed.
I’ve studied the ingredients list but I can’t determine what I think is responsible for it, but I expect it’s probably dragon fruit, as I recall those to be quite pink. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten one.
It smells like hot juice. I’m not sure if an aroma can be tart as such, but it smells like something that makes me expect tartness. This could of course also be due to the unfortunate associations I have with this particular colour. There’s also something in the aroma which is sort of leafy-spicy. No, not spicy. Herb-y, I think. Cooking herbs and fruit juice is what I’m getting here.
Alright, we can’t keep putting it off, even though the colour does frighten me a bit.
I know there aren’t any hibiscus in the blend but as it had the colour of hibiscus it’s difficult for me to not expect that tell-tale taste of blood that I get from even a small amount of hibiscus. Obviously I didn’t get that flavour, because there isn’t any, but even now after sipping, I still can’t feel entirely safe with this blend. That flavour and that colour together seems to be hard-wired into my brain.
I’m trying my very best not to let it distract me and focus on what I am actually tasting. Again, just like the aroma, I have to say cooking herbs and fruit juice. It’s very fruity this stuff, especially the apple. Apple, orange peel and lemon grass are the three primary things I can taste. Eucalyptus, something which has a very strong flavour in lozenges and similar, doesn’t seem to want to make an appearance at all. I still couldn’t tell you what I think of dragon fruit or goji berries either.
There’s a brief hint of something just when I swallow that reminds of the Sleepytime blends from Celestial Seasonings. I think that’s must be either blackberry leaf or nettle leaf, or likely a combination of the two.
This blend is far more pleasant than initial appearance made me believe, but I wouldn’t say it was anything particularly special to me.
From the queue
I’m declaring Green Week. Or rather, Things That Aren’t Black Week. I’ve got a fair few of those sorts of blends, but I’m not very good at remembering to make them once in a while. So I’m going to try, for the next week, to have a cup of something non-black at least once a day for seven days. A fair few of them I’ve already posted about, so don’t expect seven posts on the topic, but I’ll try and remember the box of untried things as well.
This is a green tea that Auggy shared with me last summer. Back then she said it was getting a tad aged, but to use heavier leaf to compensate. The age thing definitely hasn’t improved since I’ve had it and not got around to it, but we’ll see how bad it’s got. Auggy is very fond of shincha and we tend, in general, to have a very similar taste in tea. We prefer the same sort of flavour profiles and the same sort of characteristics, so although I’m not a very big green tea drinker at all, I trust her judgment on this implicitly.
It still has a lot of aroma. It’s got that smell that makes me think ‘cat breath’. I don’t know why cat breath especially, because the cats don’t actually smell like that, but that’s just the thought I invariably get. It’s a viscous, sort of salty smell with a bit of sweetness to it as well. Quite freshly cut grass-y as well.
There’s a great deal of flavour in it too. It’s quite mineral-y and underneath that there is a lot of something. I’m sure you all know how it is. You know it tastes like something you know, but you just can’t identify it. I’m thinking something along the lines of spinach and asparagus after they’ve been briefly blanched.
It’s quite pleasant, and it definitely puts the myth that ‘green teas are all very delicate and subtle tasting’ to the grave. This is fairly strong stuff. It’s as strongly flavoured as a black tea. It’s just a different flavour. I can totally see why Auggy is fond of this, and my trust was once again well placed.
I know some people will shake their heads in wonder at why I would rate something that I know is no longer at it’s best. To those, let me remind you all of this. My score is based on my experience with it, not an attempt at judging quality. If a high quality tea doesn’t make me happy, it gets a low score. If a low quality tea makes me happy, it gets a high score. It’s as simple as that. Therefore I am scoring, becuase this made me quite happy.
From the queue
This one came from Auggy a looong time ago now. In summer, actually. For the last couple of years we’ve exchanged a rather large parcel in summer but not during the rest of the year. I’ve already started planning what to put in mine next time. I’ve got some candidates in my drawers.
Anyway, this afternoon when we had both come home from work Husband requested something black and unflavoured and I asked if puerh was close enough to black for him. And it was. He was just in here a moment ago commenting that it was a nice cup.
It smells quite earthy and surprisingly sweet. A bit like warm dark syrup. That’s not actually very accurate for the sweet note but it’s sort of close enough. It’s got another aspect to it though, which I can’t quite put my finger on.
The flavour is mild and smooth. Probably not the most outstanding puerh flavour in the world, but it’s got all the right elements, I think. A smidge earthy, a bit malty, a touch of grain and a great deal of Just Tea. I’m greatly enjoying this flavour profile. Husband was rather less keen the second time we had it though.
From the queue
Husband needed a re-stocking of his Triple B chamomile bags. (Triple B = Before Bed Beverage) This then led to me finding myself in the tea section of the supermarket. Having moved, it’s a new supermarket. Same chain but larger, so they have a higher variety on some things. There was a thread on the discussion boards not too long ago about how it seemed like supermarkets seemed to be stocking a wider selection of loose leaf teas and of a generally higher quality than they did just a few years ago. Danish supermarkets seem to be moving into that trend as well these days, so I thought I’d have a gander. There were some really nice looking tins, unfortunately none of which containing anything I was interested in, so I was just about to move on when I spotted this on a shelf next to some Earl Grey of the same brand. These were standing a little back on the shelf compared to the EG (I imagine because someone took some before me), so they were easy to miss.
Excellent, I thought. It’s a type I’m rather fond of in general and it’s not so long ago that I was wishing I had some Keemun in the house. Therefore, yoink!
I have, however, upon coming home discovered two things about it. One suspicious and one slightly amusing.
The suspicious thing is the ingredients list which reads ‘Keemun tea (from China and Vietnam)’
This is not actually a Keemun tea. It’s a Keemun blend! Boo! Oh well. I suppose it’s still better than no Keemun at all.
The slightly amusing thing is the storage recommendation where it says to not pour it into a different container and that it keeps best in the bag. Like plock it does; it’s a paper bag! And it’s not even resealable in anyway. Not only is that impractical, it’s also not going to offer any protection against air or smell what so ever. LOL! Hand me a tin.
Now, blend or not, the leaves smell lovely. All wooden and leathery, slightly malty and with the faintest whiff of smoke. That, I have to admit, smells authentic enough. I expect this is probably mostly Keemun with enough Vietnamese filler to beef it up and make it cheaper. I didn’t exactly pay a fortune for this and there were 150 g in the bag.
After steeping it smells a bit thinner. Malty and grain-y, yes, and again the barest hint of smoke, but also rather a lot of just hot water. I would have liked a stronger, fuller aroma. This gets better as it cools to a drinkable temperature, but I would have liked it to be like that from the beginning.
The first few sips are indeed a wee bit thin in flavour and the fact that it’s a blend is really showing. It’s got the bone characteristics of a Keemun, a touch of smoke and some grainy notes and a bit of malt. But it’s thin. It’s stretched out and there’s very much an imitiation sort of feel to it. The vietnamese tea that it’s been stretched with is definitely playing a part here. It’s got some low-grown notes to it and I’m sort of getting the impression here of a relatively good quality Keemun stretched by a poorer quality Vietnamese which has roughly the same kind of flavour profile.
That just doesn’t work that way, though! Instead of something that makes me go ‘yay, Keemun!’ I’ve got something that makes me think ‘hm, good enough in a pinch’. If it hadn’t said Keemun on the bag, I wouldn’t have thought it had anything to do with Keemun at all apart from tasting relatively similar.
Again, it helps a bit as it cools and develops, but that’s just not good enough. It needs to be there sooner. Doesn’t lose that rough-around-the-edges imitation flavour, though. It’s not really a smooth tea, this.
I’m not completely disappointed, though. In itself it’s not at all a bad tea. I just don’t think it really does what it says on the box. On the other hand, it’s probably not aimed at people like me who are used to counting on teas that say Keemun on them actually being from Anhui and not Vietnam and who knows exactly what her Perfect Keemun should taste like. It’s probably aimed at people who are used to having bagged tea and once in a while gets a bag of loose for guests or sheer luxury. If I had still been one of these people and I had tasted this, I believe I would have been highly pleased with it. If I had been completely new at loose leaf, first venturing out into buying a higher quality leaf and I had tasted this, it would make me try more Keemun.
On that point, this is a highly succesful blend, I think. For the experienced loose-leaf drinker it’s not really special but perfectly drinkable, but it would make an excellent beginner’s tea.
I shall rate it as the blend it is, not as I would a pure Keemun, and put it here. If it had been a pure Keemun, I’d probably have knocked some 10 points or so off that.